The airport BBQ was two weekends ago, and we brought Roxy and Buster, a ton of treats, a ball, and of course, plenty of water. There were probably 20 people there, plus a handful of kids. While we were with everyone else, the dogs were on-leash and they were so well-behaved. They normally are well-behaved anyway, but I was still very proud. Neither pup jumped on anybody, and everyone had questions about them and remarked on how well behaved they were.
First and foremost, Roxy wasn't fazed by any of the people that were there. Nada. Zip. Zilch. People were coming up to say hi, ask questions, and talk about their own dogs, and both Roxy and Buster were soaking up the loving. Yes, that's right -- ROXY was soaking up loving from STRANGERS. And multiple strangers, at that. The owner of the airport came over, and she even commented on how far Roxy has come since the last time she saw her (which was last year). ROXY WIN!
Could it get any better? Of course it can... and it does!!
There were kids running around, and they were just kids being kids: running, playing, screaming, popping balloons, crying, and laughing. But Roxy was relaxed the whole time. We kept our distance from the kids, but even in the past, Roxy would have been very concerned about their erratic behavior. She would have been hypervigilantly watching their every move; her neck would have been stretched up and out, her ears forward, and she would not have taken her eyes off them. I could be trying to feed her a steak, and she would take it, all right, but if she had to turn her head to the side, she would find a way to keep her panic-stricken eyes on the strange 2-legged creatures that were running about and screaming.... which meant she was nibbling on whatever I had while subsequently swinging her rear end around to make sure her back was not to the kids at any given moment.
Now, we have been working very hard with relaxing around little kids. We've done work anywhere from 5-30 feet away from kids, depending on a number of factors. And when we first started working, she had a super rough mouth when taking treats, and she would try her darnedest to take the treats without ever taking her eyes off the kids. But on Sunday, Roxy chose to lie down and ignore the kids. She was relaxed and evidence of that is in my fingers. She had an incredibly soft mouth, even when the kids were running about and screaming. And really, the only noise that spooked her was a balloon popping, but she perked up for a moment in response to the noise, and then went back to relaxing. Roxy's ability to recover from the balloon popping really impressed me -- in the past she would have kept looking for whatever caused the noise for at least several minutes. And her ability to lay down and relax while the kids were running around was incredibly rewarding for me... it was also very rewarding for her considering I was randomly shoving stinky fish treats in her mouth. Nevertheless, Roxy was so relaxed and happily soaking up attention from strangers, despite the added trigger. I couldn't be happier.
Later on in the day, Rob and I meandered over to the secluded field in the woods. We dropped the dogs' leashes and just let them run. Roxy was a dream -- she would run full speed out in front of us, then stop at about 30 feet, turn, and wait for us to come closer. Sometimes she would turn and run back to us to check in, and then off she went again. Buster just sort of followed Roxy around, being his normal, happy-go-lucky self.
I had brought some awesome treats to do some recall work, because every opportunity is a great opportunity to practice Roxy's recall in new and not-so-familiar places.
I venture to say she's doing pretty well.
Of course, there is always more work to be done, but we're making big progress, and she's becoming a more relaxed and happy dog, overall. All of this makes me incredibly happy, and I can only imagine how much it's helping her to feel better about all these things going on, as well. I am very proud of her.